SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — A Los Angeles-area man was charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting, torturing and killing his three-week-old daughter.
Matthew Brendan Warner, 30, of Santa Clarita was charged with the molestation and death of his 19-day-old daughter, Ellorah, who was found Saturday morning in the cab of a pickup truck about a half-mile from the Newhall condominium that Warner shared with his girlfriend, who is the infant’s mother, officials said.
The parents had reported the child missing Friday night but the next morning Warner led investigators to the truck, which was parked at an apartment building, City News Service reported.
The exact cause of the child’s death had not been determined.
Warner, who remained jailed, was charged with murder, assault on a child causing death, sexual assault of a child, torture and oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child.
He remained jailed and could face life in prison if convicted. His arraignment Tuesday was continued to Feb. 18.
A call to his public defender, Victor Gerson, was not immediately returned.
His girlfriend was not arrested. Her mother, Nan Allison, told KABC-TV that her daughter was “inconsolable.”
Warner had told her that their baby was missing, she said.
“The idea that a three-week-old child should have to worry about defending herself against her 30-year-old father is abhorrent to me,” Allison said. “I hope that every minute of the rest of his existence he is burdened with guilt over what he’s done.”
Allison told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that her daughter had left the baby with Warner on Friday to go to her job as a daycare provider.
The couple went to a sheriff’s station Friday night to report the child was missing.
The criminal complaint listed “revenge” as a motive for the alleged attack, KABC-TV reported.
Warner’s mother, Victoria Law-Thompson, told the station that her son had a history of drug addiction but she did not believe he would have intentionally harmed his daughter.
“No, no, it’s not even conceivable,” she said. “Not him. I wouldn’t call it murder if it’s an accident. I don’t know what happened,”
Warner was on probation after a 2012 conviction for joyriding – his fourth such conviction since 2003, authorities said.
Matthew Warner: Accused baby killer was free due to ‘realignment’
Matthew Brendan Warner — charged with torturing, sexually assaulting and murdering his 19-day-old daughter — would likely have been incarcerated at the time of the slaying if not for the state’s prison realignment program, which freed him on probation, officials with law enforcement, probation and corrections said this week.
“Warner, at the time of his latest arrest, was on post release community supervision stemming from a Nov. 14, 2012, conviction for unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle with three priors. The priors were from 2003, 2004 and 2005,” said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
“From March of 2004 to April 2013, Warner was an inmate or a parolee,” said Bill Sessa, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“He has three convictions for vehicle theft and one for grand theft, was in and out on parole a couple of times,” Sessa said.
In April 2013, the Newhall man was released from prison and discharged to Los Angeles County for probation supervision, Sessa said.
The release came after Assembly Bill 109 — the so-called public-safety realignment bill — took effect Oct. 1, 2012.
AB 109 shifted responsibility for nonviolent convicted felons from the state prison system to county resources.
Because Warner’s convictions between March 2004 and April 2013 involved drug or property crimes, not violent crimes, he was considered a “non-non-non” and released on probation.
“We call them N-3s: non-violent, non-sexual, non-serious offenders,” said Margarita Perez, assistant chief probation officer assigned to the Adult/Juvenile Field Services and AB 109 Los Angeles County Probation Department.
“He (Warner) is your non-non-non coming out of state prison,” Perez said after checking the murder suspect’s probation record. “He came out of prison as an AB 109.”
Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 109 in April 2011, responding to a court ruling that California must drastically reduce its overcrowded prison population by some 33,000 inmates. Brown’s realignment plan involved shifting incarceration from state prison to county jails for the so-called “N-3s” and allowing probation as an alternative to incarceration. It also shifted parolee supervision from the state prison system to the county.
“He’s never had an offense against people,” said homicide Lt. Holly Francisco, the lead investigator in the case filed against Warner this week charging him with assault of a child causing death, torture, oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child under 10 years old, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and murder — all brought against him in the death of his 19-day-old daughter.
According to the criminal complaint filed against him, each of the crimes occurred last Friday, Jan. 23 — the day mother Tawni Wallis left baby Ellorah Rose Warner with her husband, reportedly to go to work.
The infant’s body was found Saturday morning in the cab of a pickup truck at a Newhall park-and-ride lot after Warner led deputies to the area.
Released on probation in 2013, Warner violated the terms of that probation three times last year. Due to provisions of AB 109, he was put back on probation after very short jail times.